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Vernon in Tolland County, Connecticut — The American Northeast (New England)
 

Fitch Mill, Belding Silk Mills & Dart's Stone Mill

 
 
Fitch Mill, Belding Silk Mills & Dart's Stone Mill Marker image. Click for full size.
By Michael Herrick, December 21, 2017
1. Fitch Mill, Belding Silk Mills & Dart's Stone Mill Marker
Inscription.
Fitch Mill, Belding Silk Mills & Dart's Stone Mill
In the late 1700s, the terrain at this corner was a wilderness, with ancient hemlocks growing on steep ledges overhanging the river. The Hockanum River tumbled out of Snipsic Lake, and down a series of waterfalls that dropped a total of 254 feet as it passed through the village of Rockville. The three mills here were built at the steepest waterfall, a drop of 44 feet. The mill buildings now obstruct the sight of the waterfalls from this viewpoint, but further south on East Main Street the water can be seen cascading below Dart's Stone Mill.

The first building constructed on this corner site was one of the earliest paper mills in Connecticut, built in 1833 by Colonel Francis McLean. (McLean was a leading figure in the early industrial development of Rockville. In 1821, he had opened the first textile mill in Rockville, called the Rock Mill.) The paper mill made paper from rags, mostly for books and news journals. In the 1860s, the mill was demolished by a fire.

The construction of the manufacturing complex seen today at the intersection of Grove Street and Main Street is attributed to the grit and determination of Albert Dart, a local blacksmith who turned to mill construction. Dart's ambitious and visionary plan was to build three mills for textile
Fitch Mill, Belding Silk Mills & Dart's Stone Mill Marker image. Click for full size.
By Michael Herrick, December 21, 2017
2. Fitch Mill, Belding Silk Mills & Dart's Stone Mill Marker
manufacturing that could take advantage of the largest potential power source in the village, the ravine and steep ledge with the 44-foot waterfall. He purchased the property in 1862 and subsequently spent seven years transforming its landscape, building the dams and erecting the buildings. To make the best use of a limited amount of land and maximize the available waterpower, he constructed a feeder canal with a short headrace to each of the three mills. The mills were built of sufficient size to employ about 100 workers each.

Samuel Fitch & Sons (Daniels Warehouse)
The first of the three mill sites that Albert Dart constructed is the mill that is now known as Daniels Warehouse, fronting on East Main Street, around the corner. Dart sold the mill site in June, 1864 to Julius Rich, who formed a new company, the Carlisle Company. The mill manufactured cotton sewing thread. The Carlisle mill failed in the financial panic of 1873. Samuel Fitch purchased the mill in 1874, and manufactured a fabric known as stockinet, a flexible cloth used to line rubber boots and raincoats. The company operated successfully through the end of the 19th century. The J.J. Regan Company then purchased the plant in 1899 and operated the Rockville Worsted Company, producing worsted wool fabric. Eventually, the mill was purchased by the Hockanum Mill Company, which succumbed to the
Fitch Mill, Belding Silk Mills & Dart's Stone Mill Marker image. Click for full size.
By Michael Herrick, December 21, 2017
3. Fitch Mill, Belding Silk Mills & Dart's Stone Mill Marker
Some of the mill buildings are in the background.
demise of the textile industry in Rockville in 1951.

Belding Silk Mills
Albert Dart's second mill project was the mill directly across Grove Street. In 1866, Dart sold this site to Ebenezer Kellogg Rose, who planned to manufacture silk thread. Dart constructed the mill in the Italianate style. By April, 1867 the first silk business in Rockville was operating. The Rose Silk Manufacturing Company failed one year later, succumbing to the business recession of that year. In 1870, the mill and machinery were purchased by the Belding Brothers Company for $41,000. The Belding brothers had grown a small house-to- house silk peddling enterprise in Michigan into a thriving silk business with factories in four cities, and sales offices across the country. The Belding mill in Rockville produced solely silk thread. In 1927, the mill was sold to the Keeneys of Somersville. In 1936 the mill was leased, and then later purchased, by the American Dyeing Corporation which ran a textile dyeing operation in the facility. Today the dyeing mill is known as Amerbelle Corporation and is the only textile-processing company still remaining in Rockville.

Dart's Stone Mill
Albert Dart's third mill project was constructed of stone and became known as Dart's Stone Mill. Built in 1868, it is an imposing structure that stands five stories high, with two 3-story wings, and looms over the village below. An enourmous waterwheel 55 feet in diameter powered all three sections. It was said to be the largest in the country at the time, and provided 150 horsepower. Unfortunately Dart's wonderful wheel cost $12,000 and forced him into bankruptcy. He withdrew from society, suffered ill health, and died in 1882. His mill was taken over by Cyrus White, and was occupied by the White Manufacturing Company in 1882, and later by the J.J. Regan Company. Today it is owned by Amerbelle. With the river spewing through a stone arch at its base, Dart's factory has, through the years, provided one of Rockville's most picturesque sights and has been a popular subject for artists and photographers.
 
Location. 41° 52.019′ N, 72° 26.534′ W. Marker is in Vernon, Connecticut, in Tolland County. Marker is at the intersection of Grove Street and E. Main Street, on the right when traveling north on Grove Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Vernon Rockville CT 06066, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Fox Hill Tower - War Memorial Tower (approx. 0.3 miles away); Cogswell Memorial Fountain (approx. 0.3 miles away); Vernon Korean War Monument (approx. 0.3 miles away); Vernon Veterans Monument (approx. 0.3 miles away); Vernon Vietnam Veterans Memorial (approx. 0.3 miles away); Vernon (approx. 0.4 miles away); Ellington Wall of Honor (approx. 2.8 miles away); Constitutional Oak (approx. 2.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Vernon.
 
Categories. Industry & Commerce
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on December 23, 2017. This page originally submitted on December 23, 2017, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut. This page has been viewed 84 times since then and 20 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on December 23, 2017, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut.
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